You’re on a road trip and suddenly, you have to go, and there’s no restroom for an hour. Do you pull over and go on the side of the road? Do you just go in your pants? What about when you are at someone else’s house and you clog the toilet?
Everyone has an embarrassing bathroom story.
Whether it’s smelly gas in public or explosive diarrhea at your boyfriend’s house, it’s usually something so horrific it still makes you cringe to think about it. Sometimes, once you are far enough away from the “incident,” you can laugh at what happened; but mentally reliving the event still brings back feelings of shame, discomfort, and humiliation.
Imagine having a chronic illness, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and needing to know where the closest bathroom is at all times. Both of these conditions belong to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Approximately 600,000 people suffer from some form of IBD. Symptoms of these conditions are the same but affect different areas of the digestive tract. One common symptom of IBD is a severe and urgent need to have a bowel movement. “Urgent” means within seconds. Often times, when an individual is having a flare up, they are unable to leave the house. It can make them feel isolated and embarrassed, and their social life may suffer.
Eating out at a restaurant or at a friend’s house may become a stressful event. Certain foods trigger flare ups, and often an individual won’t know that the food is a trigger until it happens! If you’ve ever seen “Along Comes Polly,” you will remember the scene in which Ben Stiller’s character clogs Polly’s toilet on their first date. It’s so funny to watch him and how he tries to cover up his “accident,” but anyone who has been through that exact scenario is most likely not laughing. Sometimes a person isn’t able to get to the restroom fast enough, and an accident happens. So how does one handle this kind of situation?
One piece of advice is to keep an emergency bathroom kit on hand. Although the kit is specific to an individual’s needs, it should contain a change or two of underclothes, wet wipes, soap, and disposable bags to place soiled clothing in. This kit can also contain cleaning items if you need to clean up after an episode of explosive diarrhea. If you know that you might clog a toilet, try flushing several times before you are finished. This action helps with getting smaller amounts flushed more frequently.
Next is to have a plan in place. Several apps that help find bathrooms fast are available for both iPhone and Androids. Some of these provide turn-by-turn navigation to the closest bathroom.
Last, obtain a restroom access card or wear an emergency alert bracelet. Both of these items can explain what you need without having a potentially embarrassing conversation about your condition. Additionally, these items allow you to request access to restricted restrooms when an unexpected flare up arises. Furthermore, the Restroom Access Act has been passed in many states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Washington. The law requires retail establishments that do not have public restrooms to provide access to employee-only restrooms to their patrons when the need is urgent.
Managing gas is another issue each one of us faces. Although passing gas is a natural process and everyone does it, farting in public still elicits the “church giggles” and frowny faces. If smelly flatulence is an issue in your life, then these instances aren’t funny at all. Going anywhere, especially to an office for work or to a friend’s house can be mortifying. While there are dietary changes that can be made, changing what you eat is not always a solution.
Food intolerances and allergies or symptoms of IBD can worsen the smell of gas. One suggested solution is to drink lots of water. Replace all of that soda and fruit juice with water. Slow down and chew your food completely. Digestion begins in the mouth, and chewing food thoroughly helps aid your digestive system in breaking down your food.
Bodily functions are embarrassing, especially when someone feels out of control and is unable to manage the urges and instances. Hopefully, by using some of these suggestions, you can go about town with confidence!